And he even finds ways to create new ones to trigger me. I “know” this dog was sent to me two years ago to teach me about me. Not about dog training. Not about rehabilitating a dog. He came to teach me my most important lesson about boundaries and remaining neutral and deleting my own buttons. Buttons that he pushes regularly.
In order to be a solid and effective leader of dogs, you must possess a calm disposition. Dogs will not follow instability. You can’t bullshit a dog. Energy speaks volumes. You can fake it ‘til you make it with people but that shit doesn’t work with dogs. They not only see through you but they will point out your shortcomings with reckless abandon. In.Your.Face.Training. Boom!
If you know me personally, you know that I have always sucked at maintaining boundaries and remaining neutral. I was taught that neutral was for pussies. I was an East Coast Italian with a lot of brash thrown in. It’s how I was raised. But the deeper question has become “does it serve me or help me to serve others. Why am I allowing these buttons to be pushed and where the hell did my buttons come from”?
All I wanted to do was train dogs. Start digging, mamaz.
You can’t truly grow without doing the work. How can I have the audacity to ask dogs to remain neutral when I’m exploding? What a hypocrite that would make me.
My heart is so big and full that it actually physically aches sometimes. There is such a tender soul in there. There was never any doubt about it.
I started to realize the brash was my defense mechanism for survival. Survival from what? I still don’t really know that answer but I’m still digging. Why do I let nasty people bother me. They still do. Pretending they don’t only stuffs those feelings.
Then Brutus arrived. The dinosaur dog with the same in-your-face brash. And I thought to myself some days “what a jerk, man. I’m trying to help you and you’re fucking trying to bite me. I am THE last stop. The end of the road. Why do you push me so hard?”. He had the answers and I had to work for them. Two years later and I’m still digging away.
Brutus couldn’t be placed safely in a home through rescue and was surrendered to me. For one dollar. A dollar that nobody even collected. I signed the surrender forms and they were out from under him. Run like the wind from the dog that nobody wanted or could handle.
So there we were two years ago. Now what. Sit. Stay. Be nice to your brothers and sister. No biting the vet. Blah blah blah. Yesterday’s news. We succeeded every step of the way. But—this is not why this dog came to me. He came to train me about my buttons. Those buttons that are tucked away seem to blink at him. Push me! Push me!
Dianne—Stay Neutral. No buttons. Nothing. Calm. Breathe. Rinse. Repeat. Don’t think about how furious you are. Breathe. I’ve been pretty damn awesome lately. Until today.
A little bit of pissed off slides out of me today and he wins a battle. And he almost...almost....laughs in my face and thumbs his nose at me.
“See, I knew you still had those buttons mama. You can’t hide them from me” says Brutus to me on a psychological level. And I’m replying psychologically “you little f*cker”. And he wins just a little bit more of that battle. If you really know me, you know I do not sugar coat any of me or my shortcomings.
He continues to push and push and push all the while stealing my attention from my other three dogs. I’m simply trying to get leashes on them and lip gloss on me so we can all have a pack walk and private photo shoot with my website photographer and friend, Sariah.
She has the displeasure of watching me lose my shit. What’s key though is that I regained it a little quicker this time but I still lost it. I pulled my pack together, took some deep breaths and had a beautiful photography session. I sang Uptown Funk out loud because well, I’m just a little nutty, too. I shook it off. I peed on it, kicked some grass over it and moved on. Well, not exactly but you get my drift. I cursed enough to curl your toes. And I am grateful that I was not shamed by my sweet friend for being me. That’s a big deal because along with being Italian comes that Catholic guilt tucked deep down inside somewhere. Oohhhh maybe that’s a button???
I’m human and so are you. This is how we learn and grow. There is never shame in my training. Will I push you hard? You betcha. Will I point out your flaws? You can count on it - right after I point out my own without shaming either of us.
And yes, I will cry with you because I know just how frustrated you feel and it sucks. But together, we will grow. That I can promise you. We’ll find your aha moments and we’ll cry happy tears for them. I will help you find your your mama warrior and your inner dog.
I’ve recently added an animal communicator to my rehabilitation arsenal. What a game changer! Erica came to me through one of my mentors (I love you, Alicia Bloomfield) and I loved and trusted Erica’s energy immediately. During our first healing session, Brutus shared with us that he carries a tremendous sadness. He’s been been a throw away dog and has kept changing hands. He’s grateful to be here and is desperate to heal.
Well shit. Now I feel even worse for feeling some of my agitated feelings. And then it hits me like a ton of bricks. He’s defensive. His brash personality is from some primal place of existence. “I’ll push you away before you can push me away”.
It’s our aha moment. I’m reduced to tears. Tears because he still doesn’t know that I will never give him up. I will never give him away. I might be blowing my stack while losing my shit but it’s just a moment in time. Shake it off, pee on it, kick some grass and move on. Rinse. Repeat. Delete that button for good, Dianne. You can do this.
Brutus is here to stay. We are his. He is ours. He is mama’s big mirror reflecting back to me what needs to shift in me. Just when you think you’ve got it together and you can sail a while, your next life lesson shows up with a ridiculously funny personality and fierce love for his mama.
Happy 2nd Adoption Birthday to B-Rex. The dinosaur dog who is taking me to the next level in life. Hold on ‘cause it’s gonna be some ride!
Photo credit: Sariah Harvey Photography
Animal Communicator: Erica Tibbetts (Etibbetts@me.com)